There have been a number of reasons why the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball program has been the standard of mediocrity for the past 15 or so seasons. Game-to-game inconsistencies, a lack of urgency and focus, an inability to take care of the basketball, late-game meltdowns, etc. But, by far, the biggest reason why every Tide Hoops game feels like watching Nick Saban trot out the kicker on a Saturday night in the fall, is the utter lack of consistent shot-making the program has become infamous for over the past decade.
Think about it, before John Petty’s big 2020 season, where he shot 46.2% from the field and 44.0% from three, when was the last time Alabama had a true knock-down shooter? Mykal Riley is honestly the first person that comes to my mind, and he last played in 2008.
In fact, here’s a (not so) fun game. Alabama had only three instances in the 2010s where a player took a material amount of three-pointers and shot above 40% from beyond the arc. Can you name them? Really think about it for a minute.
- Dazon Ingram in 2017 (42.9%)
- Trevor Releford in 2013 (40.7%)
- Charvez Davis in 2010 (40.6%)
No disrespect to Dazon, but I don’t think anybody would have guessed that he had the best season in regards to 3P% of any Alabama player in the entire decade (he ended up shooting 33.5% for his career). Relly is a Tide Hoops legend, but he wasn’t really known as an elite shooter. And I bet I’m one of only a few people on this site who could tell you who Charvez Davis is. Clearly, shooting has been a problem for Alabama over the years (and don’t even get me started on free throws).
Enter Nate Oats. Not only did he immediately do wonders in making the streaky Petty a consistent shooter, he has now started to lay the foundation for Alabama to become the kind of team you don’t want to see on your side of the bracket.
Revolutionizing the Roster
First of all, Oats completely flipped this roster in the span of about 14 months. Bringing in the likes of Josh Primo, Keon Ellis, Jordan Bruner, and Alex Tchikou to go along with true shooters in Petty and Jaden Shackelford, as well as Jahvon Quinerly, Alex Reese, Juwan Gary, and James Rojas will make this a team with a very high ceiling for shot-making.
These guys can all shoot the basketball, and it’s going to make for an incredibly fun season in 2021. Especially since Oats and Alabama have worked out a deal to install the Noah Basketball program starting this year. As Erik referenced back in March when the agreement was announced, this is a huge deal for the Tide. Noah has worked with a number of successful basketball programs all throughout the country, most notably the Virginia Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors, both of which went from being fundamentally sound teams that got by with elite defense, to being elite shooting teams that ended the 2019 seasons with championship rings.
The Noah Basketball program is all about using math and statistics to determine what the most successful shot trajectory looks like. After years of amassing raw data from basketball at all levels, the company based in Athens, Alabama was able to derive a formula that gives shooters the best chance at converting their jumpers. The above photo summarizes the optimal shot well. In general, a shooter wants to aim for a shot with a 45-degree angle as it enters the cylinder, eleven inches deep into the basket, just two inches past the center. This is the desired shot that Noah recommends, and the numbers back it up.
Having determined these findings, it makes it a lot simpler for players to “find their stroke” in their shooting form, as they now know exactly what they should be trying to accomplish. But that’s only part of what Noah provides. With the latest agreement, Noah has installed their state-of-the-art systems throughout the Crimson Tide’s practice facilities and Coleman Coliseum. They focus on three key areas of advancement: real-time feedback during practice, live in-game data, and post-game analysis. The Noah system has a sensor that sits above the rim and is able to track the flight path, entry arc, depth, and left/right of every shot taken. It even has an instant audio feedback, which reveals to the shooter those key metrics in real-time. In a way, it is an automated shooting coach.
So, Oats is bringing in more talented shooters and providing them the means to be the best they can be in that regard. Seems simple enough, but it is something that has obviously evaded Alabama basketball for over a decade now. We’ll have to see how the results end up this upcoming season and beyond, but the early prognosis is excellent. The word on the street currently is that Herbert Jones is starting to knock down shots.
a certain someone is making jumpers consistently now I ain’t gon say much but ya should know who I’m talkin about— JQ (@RealJahvonQ) August 5, 2020
Even Oats has acknowledged Herb’s progress, stating, “And I’ll say this: (Herb)’s been shooting the ball remarkably well compared to what he had in the past here. We’ve only been able to go live in our practices for the last few weeks here, but he’s been shooting it really well. He’s been in the gym working”. If Herb has truly developed even just a decent jump-shot, the guy is going in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. That is his one weakness as a basketball player. If he starts knocking down jumpers, look out.
Nate Oats continues to show why he was such a home-run hire for Tide Hoops. He has the ingenuity and the diligence to truly revolutionize the way that Alabama plays basketball on the hardwood. After years of mediocre shooting from this program, Oats is determined to not only remove shot-making as a weakness, but flip it to being a strength. Alabama had only three players shoot over 40% from the three-point line during a full season in the entire 2010s. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to have that many shoot over 40% this year alone.
Oats is the real deal, folks. And he’s going to make Alabama a contender again.